Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Things Never Change - Except for the Magic Number!

For example, I'm still singing those two measures of If Music incorrectly. Like my brain learned it wrong and I can't seem to unlearn it. I can unlearn it... I just have to concentrate. And practice. I have to get my body to remember how it feels to sing it correctly. And I'm talking about 1 note in each of the two measures that leads me into singing a few other notes off, but when I get that one note right, the others are correct too. What else never changes? For Tipsy Waltz - my pronunciation of the words "suis" and "peu." Years and years of French class have me pronouncing them one way, but French has that tricky bit of being different when you sing it. I'd like to know who came up with that bright idea.

Hopefully now that I've written about them, these little problems will miraculously and/or magically correct themselves. C'mon, brain, do it!

Once more lesson before the Big Eval. Two weeks to correct the two words and the two measures in two songs. Is two the new magic number? <-- Two words, two links.

Twitter: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

HGO posted a couple Brief Encounter pics at their Twitter account. Click the pic to go there and make it bigger... you know the drill.

Nathan Gunn in Andre Previn's world premiere opera BRIEF ENCO... on Twitpic

Hey, are those supers I see in this photo??? Excellent. We loooove a director who uses supers:

Nathan Gunn and Elizabeth Futral in world-premiere of Andre P... on Twitpic

Ok, this should keep the "Where's the Gunnstuff" people happy for now. 2 Gunnposts in one day.

Waiting for Twitter to turn from Gift to Annoyance. Wow that's cynical of me. Funny, I'm suddenly in a cynical mood. Go figure. Hopefully tonight's voice lesson will knock it out of me.

Ok, Ok, Here You Go

People have been after me, asking, Where's our Gunnnews? Now, c'mon people, I'm not his paid employee. Talk to the press agent if you want official press. But to shut you all up, I mean, to appease you, here's some news.

A Houston radio station, KUHF, is broadcasting an interview with the folks involved in Brief Encounter, today at Noon and again at 10. I assume that's... whatever time zone Houston is. Central? Mountain, maybe? Figure out your local time when you go to listen. And to whet your appetite, look here for a blog entry about it with a photo. The same content and photo are on the radio station's page. Thanks to Maria for the link.

Right now I'm listening to a podcast of an interview with people from Opera America. Interesting stuff. I wonder if they have any job openings?

Edited to add: I did get a chance to listen to the noon broadcast. Interesting stuff. What stood out the most for me was that the entire story is told from the main female character's perspective, so Mr Gunn has to portray his character in that context. The audience gets glimpses of the character's true nature - maybe - it can be interpreted either way - because basically, it's her version of what happened. So his charming aspects are exaggerated the way that happens when you're in that kind of situation, and the possibly seedy stuff doesn't really come through... or does it...

It should be on podcast tomorrow. It's the first part of the segment and lasted about 10 or 15 minutes. There's no musical teaser for it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Filling that Balloon

Here I am trying to fill and empty the balloon. Stomach out, pull it in. Stomach out, pull it in.

Next thing to work on is the volume - right now it's all sort of the same. I need to work on controlling the crescendos, decrescendos and any other fancy Italian music word you feel like tossing in.

I used that fancy program to move it down so this is one step lower, starting on the C. So here we go with another Work In Progress:

Wow, I look pregnant with my stomach all puffed out like that. No, I'm not pregnant. It's just... that balloon. And some chocolate, cake, cocktails and other highly caloric yummy items.

In case you were wondering, and I know you were, that banging sound at about 51 seconds in is the cat slamming into the window. It's a shame that didn't show up on camera.

A Post About a Post About Supers

Y'all know I'm a supernumerary with my local opera company. So of course I was very excited to find this blog post about supers in Houston. Yet another treat I wouldn't have known about if not for twitter!

Remember, all you professional opera singers out there, supers love chocolate.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Professional... something

Third and final post of the day.

Today at work a coworker asked me if I was a professional singer. Meep! I told her that last week was the first time I ever sang in front of a paying audience. She was amazed. She went on to compliment me up and down and sideways too - wow! I didn't know what to say. Well I did know, I said thank you. My mom taught me manners, heh heh. My coworker urged to me to take voice lessons. I told her I do and she said that she could tell that from how I sang. Anyone else see a logic problem there? But all I did was smile and graciously thank her about 500 times. Other people have said things too - wow - I can't imagine what it's like for a real professional... I imagine that after being told you're wonderful a gazillion times, maybe you start to believe it? Let's all try to think of some examples for next time. (homework for the readers!!)

Of course, some of the guys at work mentioned only the dance... go figure.

The Real Reason I Joined Twitter

Without Twitter, I'd never have known about this. So I wonder if they'll be at Briefs oops I mean Brief Encounter too? I think my brain would explode with laughter. Is that even possible? Thankfully we'll never know.

I actually do know someone who will be there on Friday, because I know everybody. Haha not really, but I'm not kidding about knowing someone who'll be there. I'll interrogate her next week, unless she voluntarily reports to me before then.

Another of my "people," and you know I do have people... ok no I don't... but anyway someone in Houston did send me this photo. I think the photographer snapped the photo while driving.

That is all. Now everyone who loves opera, join Twitter and follow all the opera companies. You'll see exclusive photos taken during rehearsals with cell phones as well as secret twitter-only codes for discount tickets. Discount? Sounds good to me.

Filling the Balloon

My voice teacher gave me an exercise for homework. At my last lesson, I was having trouble grounding and getting the full use of my breath. So this week my homework has been to sing If Music be the Food of Love, phrase by phrase, using my low abs only. Filling the balloon - meaning, pushing my abs out to draw in air, then pulling them in slowly to sing the phrase. I'm hoping that this exercise will help me gain some control over some of the notes that sometimes come out all blurty.

I was able to use the program on the CD to bring the song down a pitch, but there's no way to save it unless you shell out cash for the full version. So for now I'll be practicing that in front of my computer.

Finally, today's unrelated note:

Today when I got to work I found this on my chair, wrapped in pretty ribbon:

And it wasn't even a birthday present! One of my work friends (the woman who directed the talent show and with whom I've gone to a few operas) was cleaning out her bookshelves and thought I'd like them. Wow! I can't wait to show my teacher.

Monday, April 27, 2009

You Know What It Is?

It's my birthday, that's what. That means that a year ago I was standing in that sketchy hallway waiting for Mr. Florez to exit the Met so I could give him a squeeze. And he was so nice, checking the photo to see how it looked and all that. Ah well. That didn't help - the pictures were still terrible. That's ok. The whole experience was fun.

So once you're done reminiscing with me, take a look at these videos of John Osborn in a recent performance of Lucia in Belgium. Keep your ears open for his high E flat near the end!!!

Here's another E flat from Johnny O:

And some footage from I think a rehearsal:

Bravo, Johnny!!! It's not too late to skype me and sing happy birthday. Wait it probably is in Belgium. Oh well, maybe next year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Surprise Voice Lesson

I missed Thursday's lesson for the event at work. This morning at 9 my teacher called to say she had an opening at 10, did I want it? Perfect timing - Alex has music class in the same building at the same time, and Husband was coming along anyway because we were headed somewhere straight from there.

We decided that for the Evaluation I'd sing The Tipsy Waltz and If Music Be the Food of Love. For the recital in June I'll do If Music and Una Donna a 15 Anni.

So to prep for the eval we went over both songs to fix little things here and there. Decided to try If Music a step lower. The songbook came with a CD that can allegedly do that, plus I have a program on my computer that might be able to handle it.

I like a morning lesson so much better than the evening ones! My only real problem was that I hadn't had my usual allotment of caffeine yet, so really had to concentrate extra hard to stay focused.

I told her how much fun I had performing the other day and she let slip that she'll be performing next Sat night!! It was like pulling teeth to get the info out of her, but I got it. Of course I'm going!! More on that next week.

I think the Voice Eval will be much easier this year than it was last year. I hope. It'll still be my first time with the accompanist for these songs, and I've never actually heard a piano version of Tipsy.

Do you hear that Divavixxen??? I'm singing your audition song for a voice evaluation!!! Any and all professional tips are welcome! Can't wait to hear how they tear my accent apart.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Confused Self-Assessment

So I look at the Papageno video and I think, Yikes, how terrible. Then I think, Ok, it's not that bad. Then, Oh yes it is. We were too fast, I sound like air leaking out of a balloon SQUEEEEEEAAAAAK and OOPS I sang the wrong words once! But in spite of all that, all these people came up to me at work today to say how impressed they were. So I have come to the conclusion that while they think they're impressed with my singing, what they're really impressed with is the fact that I'd get up in front of a crowd and make the attempt.

Our director left me a very long, very nice voicemail message this morning, not only about the singing and the dance, but also that my exuberance and excitement sort of set the example for everyone else - that I became a sort of leader. She said something like, "You showed everyone that not only were you a diva with your singing, and you impressed everyone with those high notes, you were also willing to do the boring stuff in the chorus, and you volunteered to do other menial type tasks, and you handled the technical glitch so smoothly, and you sang along with Paper Moon without really knowing it..." On and on. My thought about being stage manager was, hey, I get to boss people around! And I actually did have to sort of push some people onto the stage before they felt they should enter. But we wanted a seamless show without any dead space so that was the only way to do it. Seriously though it was such a nice message - I got a little weepy listening to it. I was just being myself yesterday - I had no idea I was setting an example. Glad it was a good one. For a change. Hahahaha!

Paper Moon - Take Whatever

Trying again... here's the YouTube link. It's marked private there so I don't know if this will work... let's see:

So can you tell we never rehearsed this? And I didn't know the words? It didn't matter - we had a blast!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Videos, Part Two

Here are two more videos from the Talent Show.

We didn't rehearse Paper Moon with the main singer guy - can you tell?

Okayyyyy video isn't processing. I'll upload it another time. Moving right along...

The chorus - final number. The words to both choral numbers were changed to reflect where we work and also the coworker who we wish well.

And did you notice, I was wearing my character shoes? Decided to dig them out of the closet and wear them, you know, to get my money's worth.

But seriously, I must say again how talented everyone was. My Papageno partner is great! Such a nice voice, great stage presence, goes with the flow (meaning, my mistakes!!) and so on.

There were a few dance acts - so cool! One couple did the tango. Another did some Israeli dances. A third did real ballroom dancing with all the fancy and crazy moves!! People read poetry, there were a few skits and some more musical numbers too. All in all a very impressive showcase of the talented people I work with. I can't wait to find out how much money we raised.

Talent Show Clips

Wow! Singing tonight was SO.MUCH.FUN!!!!!

We opened with the chorus and my special lambada-esque thing. Improvised the dipping - hilarious when he caught my head near the end!

So for the duet... Technically I could have been better, but in the end it didn't matter. We pulled this together with one or two rehearsals. My Papageno and I sang it through once before with the music. So yeah, there are errors, and truthfully that's all I hear, but I think for the most part it's ok.

The fun stuff: We had the music set to play on this iPod player system... and it didn't work. So we had to stand there and direct someone to bring the CD over and set it up... so by the time we started singing we had already been "on stage" for a long minute or so.
I sang the wrong words at one point!! The words are "It is the greatest of all feelings" and I sang, "The greatest happiness is many," straight from the Met's English version of Magic Flute. Oops. My Papageno went with it as if it were planned. There was another line somewhere that we were supposed to sing together and he didn't sing... we both had sections where our voices just cut out... I could go on and on... I didn't sing from low enough in my body... I could have sounded richer had I remembered to do that. You know, use proper technique. Oops. Try not to cringe too much. Trust me, I'm doing enough cringing for everyone. In fact I think I just injured myself cringing.

There are two more videos to upload but it's taking sooooo long that I'll put them in another post.

Ok, here I go, hitting "publish" and embarrassing myself once again. If I had a nickel... hahaha I'd be able to always afford orchestra seats.

The Thing Tonight!

Just got home from the final run-through rehearsal for tonight's thing. They've redone the order of the acts and now our Papageno duet is the 2nd act. I'm disappointed because Paper Moon is nice and low - it really warms me up nicely. Not that I don't warm up before - I do - but singing Paper Moon actually does make my throat feel warm. Now that's near the end. Oh well.

We had the accompanist today, and while it wasn't a total disaster, it wasn't good. We couldn't get the tempo and kept losing our place. Turns out my partner and I both practiced along with the instrumental version on the Very Best Opera CD, so we decided to sing with that instead. They have an iPod player and a CD player so we did get a chance to practice.

Now I have a few hours before I have to figure out what to wear and get back there... my goal is to NOT sing between now and then, which is hard since I'm always absentmindedly singing something. The director wants me to lead the chorus in a warm-up in some little room somewhere before we begin. Yes that does sound vague, because it is. Then I have to remember to stand up straight, breathe low in my body, make eye contact, use those abs, relax the jaw and just have fun. And I believe the evening will be fun. We have ballroom dancers, martial arts demonstrations, a yoga demonstration, poetry readings, skits and music. There's a silent auction and there will be food. Hopefully we'll raise a nice chunk of change for our ill coworker.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tech-ish Rehearsal: Interesting things

Yesterday we had what I would call a tech rehearsal for the talent show. It was interesting since not everyone could make it. Basically we practiced getting on and off the stage quickly as each act was introduced. I volunteered to be the stage manager which means I have to tell everyone, "Now! Go!" when they need to get out there. By the way I use the term "stage" loosely. It's really just an area of the floor near the wall of the cafeteria where the tables and chairs have been cleared away.

One of the acts is a guy playing guitar while someone sings, "Paper Moon." The singer guy couldn't make it so my Papageno partner and I ended up singing it. I didn't know the words or the tune so that was interesting. Actually it's a pretty easy song and fun to sing. The director decided that we should be backup singers if the scheduled singer shows, otherwise we'll be the main singers for this one.

Then my friend and I did our Papageno Papagena duet. Interesting thing about this was that we had no accompanist because she thought the rehearsal was in a different location so she was there wondering where everyone else was... so we sang a capella and it was great fun! We improvised the movements and it was... easy! We played off each other and sang to each other while still singing to the audience. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! I felt really good about the rehearsal. Hopefully the performance itself will be as fun - I'm really looking forward to it! We have one run-through on Thursday afternoon and then the show is Thursday evening.

Oh one other interesting thing - the Paper Moon guitar player was standing there when the director was explaining about my lambada-ish thing during the opening number. She asked if he would be willing to stand sort of near the stage so I could do my thing. Then I went over to him, put both my hands on one shoulder and said, "Sort of like this..." So totally deadpan he said, "I don't think I'm comfortable with that." The director was like, "Uh, ok... if you're not comfortable, we don't..." and he cut her off, "Are you kidding? Of COURSE it's ok." *blush* It was funny. And sort of flattering. But mostly funny because he totally got us with his deadpan line.

The whole thing will be recorded so I'll eventually post the relevant parts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Load of Bull

We've been at it again.

Summer Plans

Thanks to Maria for providing this info from to the NG Yahoo Fangroup:

Alan Gilbert, who becomes the 25th Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in September 2009 and is the first native New Yorker to hold the post, will open the Concerts in the Parks on Tuesday, July 14 ... He will conclude the Concerts in the Parks with a performance on Central Park’s Great Lawn on Friday, July 17, featuring baritone Nathan Gunn singing selections from Copland’s Old American Songs and selected Mozart arias, followed by Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. All concerts begin at 8:00 p.m. and will be followed by a fireworks display.

So of course I immediately ran to check the performance schedule for Abduction, in case I'm in it... Whew! There are performances July 11, July 16 and July 19 and July 24. I am officially free of any potential rehearsal and/or performance requirements on the 17th!

Also interesting... the opera company with which I am affiliated has many events, classes and other teachable moments to benefit the talented young artists who are admitted to their summer program, like masterclasses led by special guests and so on. On July 15th at 2pm there is an event called, "Modern Opera Read-Through." I'm jus' saying... what am I saying? I'm not saying a thing. But if it's on the calendar on their website, that means it's open to the public. And even if it's not open to the public, if I'm a super, I think I can go to any and all rehearsals and learning-type events. Not that it matters. Nope. No reason to think anything about anything.

Silly me, thinking that going to Rape of Lucretia and then possibly supering in Abduction would be my only adventures for a while. Oh no no no no. There will be fireworks, and I LOVE fireworks.


Got an email from the super-captain (Every time I write that I think, Da da da DA!) sent to all the potential supers (with a secret, "undisclosed recipients" list) informing us that he has submitted our pics and info to the directors and will let us know when they contact him with their selections. So... there is a chance that I won't get picked. Hopefully my previous supering experience and my curvy, not-skinny stature will get me the part. I'll be uber-sad if I don't get it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planned versus Spontaneous Embarrassment

I still have this, "post a blog entry" feeling so I'm scraping around the dusty corners of my brain for something to write about. Let's see... opera... keeps me awake... price of tickets... voice lessons... being a fan... making videos... embarrassing myself in a variety of ways... going backstage... geez how many days till Lucretia? Because even though I have no plans to do anything except show up, lord knows I'll no doubt have some sort of embarrassing moment. And you know I'll write about it. And I know you all love it. But that doesn't mean I'm going to go out and look for an embarrassing moment just to have something to write about. No need. Trust me, they happen naturally. There's no premeditation. Hm maybe that's the problem. Maybe I should think of every potentially embarrassing interaction I can have with anyone (cough) and that way I'll be prepared. All I need to do is memorize each situation and how to extract myself from it gracefully. And then hope that the other person/people involved follow the script I've written in my head. They never do though...

See, it worked! I went on a small word-association thing, quickly got to embarrassment and suddenly had something to write about.

I'll be off the fluff and back on the content this week as we prepare for this Thursday's benefit thing.

Spreading It

Spreading what? The joy, of course.

Remember the person who went out and bought Magic Flute after seeing the clips I posted to YouTube? Well she finally had a chance to get together with her friends and watch it. She sent me a great note which, with her permission, I am sharing with you.

The tale actually starts yesterday morning in my italian language lab. We were playing a game where the TA types your favorite song or artist into youtube's search function, and then the class guesses who picked that song or person.

Normally I have halfway-decent control over my actions, but when Francesca
typed in "Nathan Gunn," I lost it completely. I couldn't help grinning and correcting everybody, "no, e una opera". . . "il flauto magico". . . "don't stop the clip!" And besides the fact that my behavior was ridiculous, everybody already knew that I liked opera, and a few remembered that I had mentioned (well, shouted) his name in class a couple of times before, so no one had ANY trouble figuring out that he was my favorite singer. Whether they managed to say so with correct italian grammar is another matter entirely.
Then that evening was Glee Club's first Friday Night Fun, where we were supposed to meet to watch "The Magic Flute." Unfortunately, only four people showed up, including myself. But we all enjoyed it thoroughly, and once again I displayed my geekdom to an unbelievable degree, gushing over the singers' diction, resonance, vibrato, and perfect cutoffs. And since my friends are also voice-studying choir geeks themselves, they agreed with me heartily. Oh, and we were suitably amazed by the puppets, costumes, and set. Holy God. Normally I don't notice those things very much, but I was blown away.

After we watched, of course, I asked everyone if they were now Nathan Gunn fans, and while their responses were not quite as enthusiastic as I had hoped, they were all impressed and agreed that he sounded beautiful and was probably quite good-looking without the feathers, strange makeup, and bird hat.

In other spreading-the-fandom-of-Nathan-Gunn news, I sent two clips to my new
opera-loving friend (C'est Moi and Au Fond du Temple Saint), and she is definitely now a fan, although probably not quite as rabid as others I might mention. And there will be many more group viewings of "The Magic Flute," because I have talked it up to everyone I know, and most expressed interest. Personally, I would like to watch it again tonight, but I had a rehearsal and concert that took up all day, plus two papers to write and another rehearsal tomorrow, so I will have to postpone it. But I am sure that I will watch it at least a couple dozen more times this year.


Just laughing because suddenly I feel like some bizarre cult leader. People come to me for gunninfo (and I don't have it!!nor do I want it) and also to jump and squeal with excitement when they "discover" him. I can relate - I've been there - but I'm well beyond the jumping and squealing stage (plus jumping would be dangerous these days without the right kind of sports top...) so I just smile and nod until they calm down.

Funny too, this evening I was thinking that I wanted to write in the blog but really had nothing to say. Then *poof* three minutes later Amanda's message arrived. I wonder if I can work that (magic flute) magic with anything else?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Let... Me? Entertain You

Ahhh the fun never ends.

I posted a few days ago about this benefit talent show thingee we're doing at work to help raise money for a very ill coworker. Now if you recall, we have this sort of makeshift chorus at work. We'll be singing a song to open and close the show. A very talented coworker has revised the lyrics of "Let Me Entertain You" and "There's No Business Like Show Business" so they now reference the coworker and where we work. We had a mini-rehearsal today to learn the songs. I walked in about 3 minutes late to, "Oh great! She's here."

"She's here?" I thought...

"Susan, we've volunteered you for something."

"Okayyyy.... what?"

"Oh, you'll see. A special solo, sort of. You'll love it. It'll get you ready for your role in Abduction."

Riiiight. The role in which I'll be in a bra top and see-through pants. In a theater. Not at work...

So we go over the songs and then our "director" says, "Ok Susan, here's your part. The 2nd time we go through "Let Me Entertain You" you'll pop out from behind everyone and do this to people... " and she came over and basically did a G-rated lambada-style lappish dance sort of next to and sort of... on... me. And then, "Can you wear something revealing? Maybe under another shirt so you can take off the first shirt and surprise everyone?" Wait, what??? This is for a work-related event. A benefit for a guy who is young enough to be my child. But... what the hey, it'll be fun. Then we rehearsed it, which was interesting since there was only 1 man in the room and he happens to be gay. I guess that just made it feel safer for me. So that was fun, and I was thinking, "Ok, I can drape over my fellow chorus members..." and then she hit me with, "So you'll go out into the audience and pick people to dance on."

Scrrreeeeech. <--- That's the sound of my brakes screeching.

Excuse me? Into the audience? Will they give me tips? Because I'm not rubbing up against unsuspecting coworkers unless there's something in it for me. But seriously, I'm not quite sure about that part. I may have to plant people in the audience, people with whom I'd be comfortable doing the lambada lap dance. Husband and Alex will be there, so maybe it can be them... Otherwise, I'm sticking to the chorus, thankyouverymuch. At least they'll all be standing...

Bells, Bells, Bells

Lest we lose our perspective, here's some pretty Mozart, pretty faces and pretty voices to remind us what it's all about.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Matrix Link

Check this out.

There are other cool things at that site if you poke around. But if you look at no others, at least look at that.

Grounding with Yoga

Interesting voice lesson tonight. We planned on starting the new piece, Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel, by Schubert. We went over If Music again first - turns out I was singing a section wrong. And rehearsing it that way. For the past three weeks. Didn't I say that I was making mistakes with this song? Apparently they continue... for how long, who knows? Also, my teacher said she felt like I wasn't grounded, like I had some tension in my jaw. So then she had me do a wall-sit, you know, where you put your back on the wall and bend your knees to a 90 degree angle as if you're sitting on a chair, but you're not, so you have to press into the wall to stay there. Great exercise both muscularly and vocally! It forces your spine straight. I could instantly hear the difference - a much fuller, more rounded tone. I could feel it resonating. When my quadriceps said "no more!" she put me into different yoga-style lunging positions. Sounds silly but it worked! Turns out she has been taking a class called Yoga for Singers. She's really excited about it because it really does seem to help. I can see why - yoga is about breathing, form and posture. Makes pretty good sense that it would help improve your singing.

So with all that we never did get around to much more than going over the pronunciation of the first few stanzas of Gretchen.

Next up: The dreaded Voice Evaluation!! That's May 13. Then in June a student recital!! The only problem with that is that the dress rehearsal is in the middle of the day on Alex's birthday and we're planning on having a party that day. Might have to do some switcherooing. The recital itself is the following evening. Might have the birthday party on the recital day instead. That way I'll be too busy to worry and be nervous. I wonder if I'll be the oldest student again? Anyway for the eval I told her I'd like to do Una Donna and If Music Be the Food of Love. Of course now I have to sort of relearn the part I've been singing incorrectly all this time. It would be so convenient if I knew how to play piano and/or read music, because then stuff like this would be less likely to happen. Oh well, it's nothing I can't overcome.

Singers v Lovers

Lucia was on Great Performances last night. The post-show Facebook status updates were veeeery interesting. The opera singer friends on my list were not all that impressed. Their opera singer friends commented on their status updates with various things that were wrong with it, including some Anna bashing. Now, while I prefer Diana Damrau in the role, Anna is no slouch! Her mad scene was great. Her voice… I think I mentioned this before – she caresses the notes. Anyway, I’m not an Opera Singer so my opinion falls into the other category – that of Lover. Live at the Met was best, of course. Live in the movies was great for the big screen, surround sound and behind-the-scenes stuff. So to me, the only "issue" was that my tv isn’t very large and it was rather quiet. Oh and then there was Husband. He graciously "allowed" me to turn off the baseball game and put on Great Performances - very cool. But then during the third act when things were getting intense he remembered that his doctor had suggested he use that wax-dissolving stuff in his ears. Sorry if that's TMI... but anyway... so he used the drops and stuck a tissue into each ear. He looked ridiculous and of course he knew it. Lucia was stumbling around in her bloodied wedding dress while Husband was wiggling his head back and forth the make the tissues wave. Welcome to my life. So overall, I enjoyed the production on TV. The other Opera Lover fans on my friends list seem to agree. We all have our own insider and outsider perspectives. Interesting stuff.

Voice lesson tonight. I was going to call this post, "Back into the Sing of Things" but I do like when the title refers to the majority of the content. Instead I'm mentioning it here because I thought it was clever.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Twitter from Houston

Helloooooo Gunnfans. Houston Grand Opera has posted another rehearsal pic to their Twitter account:

Nathan Gunn and Maestro Patrick Summers discuss the finer poi... on Twitpic

Click the pic to go to their original posting where you'll have the option of seeing the larger-than-life, I-can-see-all-your-pores-and-that's-not-a-good-thing version. And try not to snicker that the photo section of Twitter is called "twitpic."

And yes, that means I remembered my Twitter password! Find and follow me there - I'm trying to figure out if/how to link new blog posts to the updates.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ideas are Simmering

I have an idea for a video. No, it's not Beethoven's Wig. No, it's not me struggling through some song or another. NO it's NOT Nathan Gunn or anyone else. I just need some time home alone to do it. No! Stop thinking that! It's not inappropriate!! This is a family blog, remember! If it works, it might be silly. I promise, if it's silly enough, I'll post it.

Next order of business.

Sadly, a very young coworker of mine has recently been diagnosed with leukemia. He may have to fly from Baltimore to Seattle for a bone marrow transplant. He is relevant to the blog for two reasons. 1. He is also a super in the local opera company and was in a production last summer, and 2. My department at work is putting on a talent show to raise money for his medical and travel expenses.

No, I'm not pulling out the flaming baton for the show. No, no no.

Truth is, I've been itching to do a duet. Luckily for me, I have a musical friend at work who is willing to dueticize with me. We decided that English is best for this particular projected audience, so we're going with the English version of the Pa Pa Pa duet found on The World's Very Best Opera for Kids - In English. Hmm I thought they used to have their own website but I can't seem to find it. Anyway, we have someone who is willing and able to accompany us on piano so now we just have to procure the piano music for it. Anyone have a copy they'd like to fax to me?

Interestingly enough, my singing partner is interested in becoming a super, and might do one of the roles this summer if he gets his act in gear and contacts the super-captain before they fill all the positions.

Moving right along.

Besides supering, my next operatic adventure is Rape of Lucretia in Philadelphia on Friday, June 12. As of now, I am not nor do I have any intentions of working any connections to go backstage.

If Rossini were in Queen

...we'd probably hear a lot of pieces like this:

Of course Freddy Mercury would have sung it way better. And looked cleaner. And there would have been fireworks. And topless women on bicycles. Instead we have ... that hairy guy. Well at least he looks like he's having fun.

I kind of like it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Did You Ever Wonder?

Did you ever wonder what opera singers do when they're not studying music, rehearsing or performing? Obviously it's this:

The huge problem here is that it's somehow too wide for the blog page - so I insist that everyone who sees this click over to YouTube and see it there for the full effect. Seriously. You have to see the translations and the singing driver. Promise? Ok, good. Now go.

When it Rains, It Pours! More Beethoven's Wig!!

Today's project: Beethoven's Wig, Whistling Happily, from Rossini's William Tell Overture. It's from Beethoven's Wig 3. Each piece on the CD features a different instrument. This one features the Piccolo. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Commentally Speaking

Been getting a lot of nice comments on YouTube lately, both on the channel and on specific videos. Here are some from the past few months. I did not correct spelling or grammar...

Channel comments:

I enjoy your videos sooo much! Nathan Gunn wooh! Your son is just a dream!!! Yay opera! Keep it coming!

I don't know how you do it. It's like you've picked all the operatic music I am most likely to enjoy, and posted it. It's taken me a long time to moderately enjoy opera; I hardly ever listen to it, mostly singing it in my voice lessons. But first Camelot drew me to your page, then the Magic Flute clips made me buy the dvd, and now I've listened to the Pearl Fishers songs... and I'm hooked. I don't know if I've ever heard anything so beautiful- I jerked my head up from what I was working on, stunned, to pause and marvel at the beauty.

Random video comments, linked to the video they're on:

What a lucky child to have you as a parent..

Ooh... I hadn't had a chance to check this out until now, and that was BEAUTIFUL. What a gorgeous voice... *sigh*
Poor Zurga. Nathan does angsty very well.

This is one fo the most beautiful baritone arias. I just went back to the University of Illinois for my audition and I ran into Nathan's wife Julie, and Nathan himself, again. They are two of the nicest most talented people. Thanks so much for posting this fantastic piece of music!

You, are funny Mom , greatest, coolest and creative minded.
So much fan to watch your videos ... :):) Thanks !

Your son is really cute with his constant smile :):) His preparation for music blended togehter with perfect coreorgaphy.Bravo Alex !!!!

O-M-G!! I love these CD songs - very educational! - and I love your video interpretations even more! This is such a great interpretation of the famous "Die Forelle" quartet! :P

I don't know why everyone always complains about Nathan Gunn's voice not being interesting enough, or whatever they're talking about. So he's not ridiculously rumbly; I find his smooth sound and passionate delivery quite pleasing.

nathan gunn as papageno is perfect, no matter which language he's speaking or singing. love his hat! (not sure why people are so down on translated works. many feel the same way about anime translations too, for goodness sake! they don't even take the quality of the translations or lip-flap matching into account. such high-falutin' snobbery, haha!) a very refreshing and entertaining production, thank you very much for your postings!! (your children are lucky, too!)

omg!! I love nathan gunn as papageno , his amazing!!

He is just the perfect Lancelot. I didn't like the casting for this show, Marin Mazzie is good but just didn't fit. Fran Drescher? Oh please! The only one is was cast well was Nathan. He is just Lancelot. And Christopher Lloyd as Pellinore was great

Thank you very much for posting this. This has proven to be invaluable in researching this charachter. His performance is spectacular.

Nathan Gunn is just pure amazing and always has been!!!

thanks so much for your wonderful postings of Nathan Gunn ... WHAT an incredible voice singing songs from Camelot - a show I never did care for but now am listening to all day long thanks to his smoldering voice.

Bravisimo Osborn....tiene una voz maravillosa y una tecnica y linea de canto...impresionantes.

Excellent! A truly effortless rendition.
Thanks for your Osborn clips, Luindriel!


Excellent! It is so nice to hear this aria sung by a tenor with a rich low register! The coloratura is remarkable and the timbre masculine. I must admit that I am really impressed!

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words!

Don't be shy- comment here on the blog too!

Stuck in the Saddle

I am a Video Making Machine.

Beethoven's Wig- Stuck in the Saddle Again!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Overly Creative Day!

Once you get started creating things, it's hard to stop!

Made that video of myself that I posted two posts ago.

Made a bunch of earrings:

Made... yet another Beethoven's Wig video! This is a quickie.

A Brief Glimpse

Houston Grand Opera is presenting a world premiere next month of a new opera called A Brief Encounter, based on a film adaptation of a Noel Coward play. Buccaneer that he is, Nathan Gunn is of course portraying the male lead. And lucky us, HGO has posted a rehearsal pic for his loyal fans (and anyone else who comes across it) to see. Go ahead, follow that link and then click full size for the larger than life, grainy, I-can-see-all-your-pores version. Or just look here, for I borrowed their photo.

No briefs there. Or boxers either, in case you were wondering, and I know you were.

Mr. Gunn's costar is soprano Elizabeth Futral. Yeah, I've never heard of her either but that means nothing. I'm sure she's fab or she wouldn't be singing the part.

And while I was poking around on HGO's Twitter site, I bit the bullet and made my own Twitter account. Look for me there. Of course I've already forgotten the password I came up with so don't hold your breath for updates.

Finally, the After

You heard the before and saw all the problems I listed.

Here is the after. I only occasionally have that full sound that I want, like a syllable here and there. And it only took about 7 attempts to get a version that I felt confident enough to post... although by no means am I pleased with it. This is strictly for comparison.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Another, "Hey I know that guy!" Video

Well, I met him once, and we're "friends" on Facebook. Does that count?

It's that tenor dude I finally met for real last week in Florida. Look! Listen! Good stuff!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vanity Fair, "Look at me!"

Vanity Fair features a bunch of pretty opera singers in its May 2009 issue.

Can't.... stop... laughing...

Ahem. Sorry. Seriously. Love how they're all posed, especially Mr. Front-And-Center. Click the link or the photo itself for the full-sized version and the full-sized effect of the facial expressions and shoe detail. But here's a smaller version, pulled from their website, to whet your appetite.

Can someone please tell me what is up with those shoes? Or am I going to have to pick up the magazine for the description, price and where to purchase?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Beethoven's Wig - Schubert's Trout

Can't... stop... making... videos... of... Beethoven's... Wig...

This time it's Schubert's Trout.

Watch through to the end for the blooper footage.

Liz Link and Still More

Look, another blogger thinks Liz is fab.

Just came across this video of her and tenor Eduardo Aladren performing the Duet from Penella's opera, "El Gato Montes," in the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, December 2008:


Still waiting for time to make a new recording for the Before and After experiment.

Still waiting to hear from Beethoven Wig's management to make sure the vids are ok.

Still trying to decide which BW song to turn into our next video.

Still waiting to hear confirmation on the Abduction supering this summer.

Still wondering who will go to the HD of La Cenerentola with me.

Still wondering if I'll try for a new photo at Lucretia.

Stay tuned for updates as they occur.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Florida Grand Nozze

Back in October, for my mother's birthday, I purchased tickets to take her to see Nozze di Figaro at Florida Grand Opera. Before she married my father over 50 years ago, my mother used to go to the Met every week. And this is the old Met. She's never been to what she calls the "new" Met. It all boggles the mind - not just that she's never been to the current Met, but that when she married my father she stopped going to the opera. But let's not even go there...

So when I saw that Elizabeth Caballero was singing the Countess less than an hour from my mother's house, I knew I had to break her non-opera streak and get her out there. My cousin agreed and said she'd buy us all dinner if we "let" her join us. We would have welcomed her without her dinner offer!

So finally 6 months after procuring the tickets, the day of the performance arrived. My brother agreed to watch Alex and I even got him to snap my pre-opera photo on my way out the door:

Then my cousin and I picked up my mom and went down to Ft. Lauderdale. We ate at a nice restaurant called Himmarshee. I had the nut-crusted goat cheese salad and the butternut squash pockets - YUM!! My mom had the striped bass and gnocchi. My cousin had the hanger steak. I still don't know what that is. Ok well I do now that I looked it up to make a link. So I was right, it's not related to airport hangers.

I also had a yummy cucumber-watermelon girltini:

We grabbed one of the waiters and got him to snap a photo:

That's my mom in the brown patterned top and my cousin in the blue shirt. Oh and me in the middle.

For some reason I thought I got tickets in the balcony, but I didn't. The view from my seat:

We were in the 4th to last row in the rear orchestra.

My cousin purchased her tickets several months after I got them. She ended up sitting exactly two rows behind us. Like, right behind us! In the 2700 seat theater. Go figure.

Before the performance I stretched out my arms for a photo of me and Mom. Does she look 81 1/2 to you? Yeah I don't think so either!

The performance itself was really good. Really really good. The orchestra was kind of quiet, but very good. And it was good that they were quiet because except for Lizzy C and one or two other singers, most of them were not loud enough to really fill the hall. Liz, of course, stole the show. And I'm not just saying that - seriously - she is in a total other league than all the other singers in that production. Everyone was very talented, but she just shone out above and beyond everyone else in the cast.

The staging was very very clever. For the first scene there was a bed in the middle and a rack of clothing at an angle on either side:

So all the hiding and misdirection took place around, under, through and in the bed and clothes. Then the scrim behind the bed lifted, the clothing racks were moved aside and the bed was moved back to where a curtain could be pulled around to enclose it - yet another hiding place. Everyone had great comedic timing as they took full advantage of the set. There were lots of supers too. Love a director who uses lots of supers!

Unfortunately, the crowd was less than stellar. What do I mean? Well... in the spirit of Opera Tattler, here's what I noticed. Experienced. Suffered through...

  • There was almost always someone coughing.
  • People around me commented to each other. Constantly.
  • Not only was there almost always someone unwrapping a cellophane candy and folding the wrapper, one nearby person had said cello candies in a velcro section of her purse. It was unbelievable. Imagine... the rip of velcro in the middle of an opera... the cello candy slowly being unwrapped... and of course she folded the wrapper. Ok not worth raising my blood pressure again now.
  • During intermission I overheard someone say, "You really have to be an opera lover to like this one." What???? It's Mozart. It's full of catchy melodies. It has a silly plot. I recommend this to people as a first opera to listen to. What???? Ok calming down now.
  • During intermission I overheard someone say, "Is that it? Is it over" and a few, "Do you want to go now?"
  • People started leaving before the curtain calls. What, is there a last train that they all had to catch? It sort of felt like a baseball game when people leave during the 8th inning to beat traffic because it's obvious who is going to win.
  • People left during curtain calls, ruining my attempts to get a curtain-call pic with my iphone. Not that it would have come out anyway, but still.
And speaking of the curtain call, everyone got a nice reception, but when Liz came out people hooted and hollered and got to their feet. She deserved it!! In fact, the only time there was no coughing, chatting or candy-unwrapping was when she sang her arias. During Porgi Amor and Dove Sono the entire theater went quiet. (Those links are to YouTube videos of Kiri Te Kawana singing those arias) People started applauding before she even finished. So in that way, she stopped the show. She stopped the show of whispers and wrappers.

Afterwards we asked the head usher how to get backstage. I love the directions I always get... This time it was, around the hall, to the left, toward the windows, down the stairs, zig right and then zag left then go through the double doors. And there we were, backstage! Liz was right there, we said hello, she met my mom and cousin and they were starstruck! My mom was still crying from the opera itself. She's a cryer. I get that from her. She doesn't cry when it's sad - obviously Nozze isn't sad - she cries because it's all so beautiful.

Liz had to run - she was on her post-performance high (dare I say, performancegasm?) and she had many friends, relatives and other well-wishers to greet. Then I realized I was standing next to someone with whom I am friends on Facebook because we have many mutual friends and comment on the same stuff all the time, but have never met in person, an adorable tenor named Jason Ferrante. I've actually seen him perform - he was in that Rigoletto I saw way back when. And he's a blogger so I should put him on that list over on the right----> . Anyway of course then I had to try and explain Facebook to my mother. How could I be "friends" with someone I've never met? What do you mean, he's friends with your boyfriend from when you were in the 8th grade, and also friends with a bunch of singers you know? How did you meet? What do you mean, you never have? It was totally surreal to meet him there, but also totally normal, if that makes sense. I should have taken a photo but it my mom and cousin were ready to go - it was past all our bedtimes.

On the way home my mom and cousin couldn't stop talking about " wonderful it all was, especially Liz, and how beautiful she is, and her voice, ohmygod what a voice, and she's so nice and Susan! She shrieked with pleasure when she saw you! And gave you a big hug! And asked about Alex! And remembered that the tickets were for (my mother's) birthday..." it was cute - they were totally starstruck.

Here, listen for yourself - this is from a recent recital.

She's next in another production of Nozze in Seattle, but switching to Susanna. Once she has both parts under her belt, so to speak, I think she should make a video like this:

Heh heh. Love that.

Alex and I spent a couple more days in Florida before heading home to Windy Jersey.

If I get some time home alone in the next few days I'll try to record an "after" to compare with the before.

Next adventure: Rape of Lucretia. Unless rehearsals for Abduction start before that. Assuming the director thinks I'm curvy and "volumptuous" enough...

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I'm home!!! My head is still spinning from the windy plane ride. Whooosh! All I can say right now is, it was a nice visit and the opera was fab. Details on the event to follow tomorrow, I promise! Plus even if I wanted to post about it now I couldn't because the memories are in transit from my short term to my long term, and are therefore currently unreliable.